There's a lot on offer if you want something sporty and casual from a London designer. We're the leaders of the pack when it comes to that. Such is the success of sportswear that the luxury labels have got on the act with vigour - remember when Gucci did all those odd hoodies, leggings and joggers a few seasons back? The challenge of pulling in a monied shopper and winning support beyond the street style pack when you're peddling tracksuits and t-shirts is being felt by many young designers. The same day as Long's collection Kilgour, under the direction of Carlo Brandelli, showed trainers and cosy tracksuit-suit hybrids. Tracksuits on Savile Row? That's where the men who have everything - the kind of spendy blokes that young designers need to attract if they want to grow their labels - would go. So it makes sense then that Long was upping the luxury stakes and trying to make his collection feel more suave than street.
He called it the 'juxtaposition of glamour and on-the-edge' and it manifested as a clash of high and low - so sporty jackets were rendered in lace, giving them a baroque opulence that was enhanced by the inclusion of fine illustrations by James Davison of Banes of Thebes. Everything from those embellished tracksuits to the vaguely showy leather hoodies smacked of something hand-touched and pored over. But it wasn't all about showing off; Long was also taking stock. He'd looked back to his own archive, referencing the combat jackets and harness details that won him such rave reviews when he started out. All in all this was about looking back while consolidating a point of difference; Long knows what he's about and trusts his own mind (hence all those nods to his design history) but is aware that self-confidence alone isn't enough to sell so he's ready to answer market demands. This was his most mature collection to date, it looked beyond London, beyond the niche and beyond street trends; that wider gaze will pay dividends when it comes to sales.